Warframe

I Am Disappointed With The Story Of Scarlet Spear

Warframe5 - I Am Disappointed With The Story Of Scarlet Spear
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This came out a bit more rant-y than I anticipated but this still think it needs to be said. Scarlet Spear's story leaves out many elements of Warframe's world that I think could have been communicated better.

NOTE: I spoke with the lead writer of Warframe on Twitter about the issues covered in this post. Read these as you will, perhaps they'll give you more clarity as to the intentions and constraints of the writing team (as he says, this is a videogame, not a novel, so there are certain constraints to the narrative). Give him a follow as he's a cool dude: https://twitter.com/Cam_Rogers/status/1243185685705773057

So let's look at what is happening in Scarlet Spear from a macro point of view. ((Time for me to finally get some use out of that Creative Writing degree.))

The Sentients are invading the Solar System for a reason not yet fully explained – and after two years of build up without answering this question, I wonder if there's really a reason at all. But that's jumping the gun.

The Murex recon ships are sent to the Origin System to collect data. Whatever this "data" they are after is a mystery, because the cinematic which beings the Scarlet Spear says nothing about what the Sentients are after. These Murex, despite being recon ships, begin their data collection from inside the Veil, which is the Heliosphere. First of all, the ranges involved by having Murex in the Veil is insane. Let's do some quick math:

Average distance to Oort Cloud: ~100,000 AU

Time for light to travel 1 AU: ~500 seconds

Time for light to travel 100,000 AU: 50,000,000 seconds ~ 13,889 hours ~ 579 days.

This means it would take 579 days for Condrixes to reach Earth from the Murex Heliosphere. And that's if they're traveling at the speed of light, something Sentients cannot do in Warframe's universe. So yeah, that's some BS sci-fi right there. It just leads me to ask… Why aren't the Murex orbiting in the Earth skybox if they're invading Earth?

Speaking of, why are the Sentients invading Earth? What objective are they trying to complete? Earth is, in the in-game Codex lore, strategically useful only for its fresh water supply, but is not the only planet with water, nor has the highest supply. Earth is a backwater planet. The only thing I could think of which the Sentients could be after are the petrified remains of the Sentient who died on the modern Plains of Eidolon, but they're not landing there – they're landing in the jungles. Why? Why are they doing this? What is the Sentients' motivation?

On another note, there is another faction in Warframe's universe which happens to be obsessed with Earth, the human form, humanity… New Loka. Yeah, where is New Loka when an army of sentient machines are invading their sacred planet? Why is that syndicate not joining us on every mission, not throwing themselves in waves trying to protect the most important element of their faith?

Beyond this, where are the rest of the Syndicates? I can buy that the Red Veil can't help because we really lobotomized them in Chains of Harrow, but what about the Steel Meridian, an actual military force? Is the Perrin Sequence bankrolling our operation? Were they the ones who gave Little Duck her relay, which she even admits is shoehorned into the story? I would ask where the Arbiter of Hexis are, but we still know absolutely nothing about their beliefs (What do they mean when they say "justice?" What does it mean when the game says they venerate the Tenno?). Major players in the Origin System are just nowhere to be found when they should be right front-and-center to the conflict.

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For those who are front and center, I want to ask, why does Sargas Ruk think the Tenno are working with the Sentients? There is no reason stated in-game for the Grineer to think that. Previous in the story, we killed Grineer for communicating with Sentients (Natah quest). This feels like it was just written to make jokes and have a second enemy to fight during missions. The dialogue which is written is funny, yes, but this makes no sense.

On the idea of sensibility being replaced for the sake of humor, why is Teshin no more than a joke in this operation? Little Duck mentions that Teshin came to her asking for information about the Sentients, and she plays it off for laughs. This does fit her character, but this opens up the can of worms: Why is Little Duck in charge of this operation when she has no military background?

Little Duck was a child assassin under the Business, but forwent her training to become a Merc-Merc until the events of the Warframe comics happen where she gets lopped in with the Quills. So now she is the voice of the Quills to the Tenno. That does not qualify her to oversee a military operation. What should have happened is making Little Duck one of many vendors aboard the Flotilla. She stays the voice of the Quills and supplies the Tenno Arcanes, but leave someone like Teshin, Cressa Tal, or Ameryn oversee the actual missions. Having an assassin play the role of general just makes no sense, and wastes an otherwise gorgeous cast of characters which have yet to be fully realized in the game.

It all had so much potential. Scarlet Spear was marketed to be the largest story expansion in Warframe's history, but the first impression has just fallen flat – and the reason I'm so emotional over it is because I love Warframe's world. It has one of the most unique sci-fi worlds in videogames, but here, I just feel it went underused. This is also not to say the writing team is bad, we all know how good their previous work has been in places like Fortuna, the Sacrifice, etc. But in Scarlet Spear I just can't get behind some of the narrative decisions made.

High-level potential solutions for operations going forward

  • Distance and time in Warframe have never been a big issue, so I wouldn't put too much thought into them. However, here in Scarlet Spear they did make me raise an eyebrow.
  • Establishing the motivation of the antagonists is paramount. Currently we do not know why the Sentients are invading Earth, what their objective on Earth is, or what their ultimate plan is aside from extermination. Please elaborate on what, specifically, the Sentients want to do in the Origin system and why.
  • Keep the Syndicates involved. The Flotilla is a relay, and if there was any time for the Syndicates to step into the world it would be now. Perhaps more than having their vendors on the Flotilla, why note also use the Syndicate Mission setups to allow Syndicate followers to spawn with players on missions? It would certainly help the Syndicates' narratives feel more connected to the gameplay.
  • I, personally, disagree with the use of Little Duck as the linchpin character here. There is a ton riding on this invasion if it is truly as apocalyptic as we're told, so to hand Little Duck the role of military leader I just can't get behind. She should still be a part of it, as she is the voice of the Quills, but have someone like Teshin, Cressa Tal, or Ameryn handle the strategic and tactical layers.

Sorry about the rant-style essay, but I believe this feedback needed to be said. So much feedback has been going toward gameplay that issues in the story were being overlooked, so here's my post. Feedback would be plenty appreciated.

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